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Media’s COVID Whiplash Syndrome

Delta Variant of COVID-19 molecule
By: Kyle Smith – nationalreview.com – September 8, 2021
 If you’re fully vaccinated against COVID-19, here are some things that are more likely to happen to you than being hospitalized with a severe case of COVID: drowning, dying of electrocution, dying of fire or smoke inhalation, dying by choking on food, dying of accidental gun discharge, or dying from an injury due to a sharp object.
Fully vaccinated left-wingers of the United States, who wield vast cultural influence and seem intent on leveraging their fears to forestall a return to normalcy as long as they can, should be asked sincerely: Do you ever waste a single minute of the day worrying about any of these other risks? Or car accidents, which, it goes without saying, are a much likelier cause of death than any of the above? You have a 1 in 107 chance of dying in a motor-vehicle crash. If you’re fully vaccinated, you have a one in 31,000 chance of being hospitalized with COVID, and a one in 138,000 chance of dying of COVID.
If you don’t worry about these other things, stop worrying about COVID. This means you should stop worrying about whether other people are wearing masks. Assuming you’re not immunocompromised, or in some other high-risk group, you face a negligible risk.
The following should have been the message from the media, the CDC, and the rest of the federal government for this entire year: If you’re vaccinated, the pandemic is over for you. Carry on with your life. This idea was starting to penetrate even the thickest skulls in early summer, but then a bunch of unvaccinated people got sick, and thousands died. Vaccinated people have done fine. Yet the Delta variant kicked off a Summer of Irrational Rage led by progressives who convinced one another that it’s mainly Tucker Carlson’s fault that a lot of people resist vaccination.
This week the Left’s various media outlets have started to calm down a little. Pieces are starting to appear that ask exactly what our pandemic endgame is and acknowledge — finally! — that a level of zero infections, or even zero deaths, is not a realistic goal. Unofficial CDC director David Leonhardt, whose New York Times columns have a way of becoming official policy a few days after they are published, urged vaccinated people yesterday to consider that their chances of being infected are one in 5,000 on a given day. Since vaccinated people aren’t at risk, why is so much of our culture still oriented around mask policing? Three-quarters of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine. That should be enough to allay fears among the vaccinated.
Meanwhile, the Atlantic and New York magazine are inviting the wrath of their rageful, safetyist, left-wing readers by coming around to what conservatives have been saying for a year — the cost of masking small children almost certainly outweighs the benefits. The U.K. and the WHO get it, so why can’t the American Left? Is the reason as stupid as “We must punish the nation’s children to own Ron DeSantis?” Or, perhaps, “Masks prove my children and I are good and responsible people”?
Right now we’re in a waiting period. In a few days or weeks, the hysteria-driven media and the activist Left will connect the dots. Maybe David Leonhardt will gently nudge them in the right direction. But for the moment: whiplash. From one sentence to the next, reporters can’t quite grasp that if they’re vaccinated, they have no reason to be angry or afraid.
Take, for example, CNN’s Brian Stelter. His media newsletter last night began sensibly enough: “The COVID conversation is changing.” Indeed! Because people like Brian Stelter are starting to realize things most of the country grasped a long time ago. “It’s happening from Fox to CNN, from The New York Times to the Los Angeles Times. . . . Vaccinated America is learning how to live with mostly mild flare-ups of the Covid-19 virus.” Fine.
Two sentences later, though, the fear returns to Stelter’s brain, and he is screaming that “An unvaccinated minority that doesn’t watch the news or trust the news is putting the vaccinated majority at undue risk.” Huh? Vaccinated people are at almost no risk. As Stelter himself just acknowledged! In his next paragraph, he returns to his senses: Approvingly he quotes Dr. Nicole Saphier (despite her having appeared on Fox News Channel) as saying, “The best path forward that will bring the most amount of happiness and health,” she said, “is if vaccinated adults stop overestimating their Covid risk and unvaccinated adults stop underestimating theirs.” Just so.
After a few uncharacteristically even-tempered paragraphs of downplaying fears (and praising Leonhardt for his efforts to do so), Stelter suffers a relapse and starts talking about masking his two-year-old child as though this is a reasonable, necessary, or even feasible thing to do.
A mask on a two-year-old? All day? Pardon me while I train my cat to play guitar.
Still, I am glad that, however slowly, Stelter is coming to his senses, just as Politico, which sent out a newsletter in mid July under the headline “Apocalypse now,” this week sent out one that said, “A ray of hope on the pandemic.” The ray cited is that Politico has decided to be less afraid. To that end it is now publicizing quotations from the kind of people who downplay fears. It quotes one of its own writers as acknowledging that the Delta variant will probably surge in the northern states pretty soon, but although Politico lost its mind when this happened in the South, Politico thinks we can live with a blue-state uptick in cases. The site says we are now in a “manageable middle,” approvingly quotes Surgeon General Vivek Murthy as saying, “It is really important that we convey that success does not equal no cases,” notes that “the coronavirus is here to stay,” but shrugs at all of this because “the vaccines do work.”
All true. But all of this was also true two months ago. So what was with that half-summer of apocalyptic warnings, fake news, and rage? If the media would occasionally apologize for their various lapses and temper tantrums, people would have a lot more respect for them. But, better late than never. Welcome to the correct side, media, and, yes, another way of saying that is: Welcome to the Right side.

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Source: Media’s COVID Whiplash Syndrome | National Review

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